The End of a Global Pox

America and the Eradication of Smallpox in the Cold War Era

By Bob H. Reinhardt

286 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, 1 fig., 2 maps, 1 table, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4232-1
    Published: February 2018
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2410-5
    Published: June 2015
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4581-8
    Published: June 2015

Flows, Migrations, and Exchanges

Buy this Book

For Professors:
Free E-Exam Copies

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit
By the mid-twentieth century, smallpox had vanished from North America and Europe but continued to persist throughout Africa, Asia, and South America. In 1965, the United States joined an international effort to eradicate the disease, and after fifteen years of steady progress, the effort succeeded. Bob H. Reinhardt demonstrates that the fight against smallpox drew American liberals into new and complex relationships in the global Cold War, as he narrates the history of the only cooperative international effort to successfully eliminate a human disease.

Unlike other works that have chronicled the fight against smallpox by offering a "biography" of the disease or employing a triumphalist narrative of a public health victory, The End of a Global Pox examines the eradication program as a complex exercise of American power. Reinhardt draws on methods from environmental, medical, and political history to interpret the global eradication effort as an extension of U.S. technological, medical, and political power. This book demonstrates the far-reaching manifestations of American liberalism and Cold War ideology and sheds new light on the history of global public health and development.

About the Author

Bob H. Reinhardt is assistant professor of history at Boise State University.
For more information about Bob H. Reinhardt, visit the Author Page.


“A relevant, detailed, and enjoyable study of the eradication story from the American perspective.”--Journal of American History


“Complicates the popular narrative of smallpox by not ending with eradication, but, instead, bringing the story to a present where the meaning of that achievement becomes a great deal less certain than previously imagined.”--American Historical Review

“Reinhardt’s study offers a valuable addition to the increasingly rich and varied literature on smallpox eradication, health, and global governance.”--Diplomatic History

“Provid[es] a true service and great lessons on the need for wisdom on our approach to global health.”--Bulletin of the History of Medicine

“Reads easily, vividly conveying the dread aroused by smallpox of the past and a fear of the possible future. . . . A valuable contribution to literature; it tells us much about American views, the discussion taking place within the US about smallpox and CDC/USAID involvement with smallpox and measles in Central and West Africa.”--Reviews in History

Multimedia & Links

Follow the author on Twitter @bobhreinhardt.